Lasting Powers of Attorney – your health and welfare

by Jo Hudson (Basildon), Viju Chhagan (Thurrock) and Tim Steele (SWF).

One seemingly inevitable consequence of the fact that we are living for longer is the increase in the number of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia and who, as a result, require the involvement of social workers, medical staff and care home workers in their daily lives.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) gives legal authority to the person(s) you appoint to make decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity. For anyone who owns a property or has other assets, making an LPA for Property and Financial Affairs is an insurance policy against the distress and cost which might otherwise result from the need for your loved ones to apply to the Court of Protection in order to safeguard or manage your property and other assets.

Whilst many people will have heard of, if not yet made, an LPA for Property and Financial Affairs, LPAs for Health and Welfare appear to be less well known.

Attorneys under an LPA for Property and Financial Affairs do not have any authority to make decisions regarding your welfare, for example, whether or not you should receive certain medical treatment, whether you should be resuscitated, where you should live, who you should have contact with or what kind of diet you should have.

To ensure that your loved ones are able to make decisions about your welfare if you have lost the capacity to make a decision yourself, instead of such important decisions ultimately being made by others such as social workers, medical practitioners or care home managers, an LPA for Health and Welfare is required.

An LPA for Health and Welfare shifts the decision-making power to your family from the agencies mentioned above. Without such a document, whilst these agencies should consult with your family, they are not obliged to follow their wishes and can even override the wishes of your spouse or partner.

Please contact Palmers Solicitors on 01268 240000 for expert advice on all aspects of organising your legal affairs for later life. Our older client department is staffed by lawyers with extensive knowledge and a sympathetic approach.